Deuteronomy 20

* Exhortation and proclamation respecting those who went to war.

(1-9) Peace to be offered, What cities were to be devoted.

(10-20)

1-9 In the wars wherein Israel engaged according to the will of

God, they might expect the Divine assistance. The Lord was to be

their only confidence. In these respects they were types of the

Christian's warfare. Those unwilling to fight, must be sent

away. The unwillingness might arise from a man's outward

condition. God would not be served by men forced against their

will. Thy people shall be willing, #Ps 110:3|. In running the

Christian race, and fighting the good fight of faith, we must

lay aside all that would make us unwilling. If a man's

unwillingness rose from weakness and fear, he had leave to

return from the war. The reason here given is, lest his

brethren's heart fail as well as his heart. We must take heed

that we fear not with the fear of them that are afraid, #Isa

8:12|.
10-12 The Israelites are here directed about the nations on

whom they made war. Let this show God's grace in dealing with

sinners. He proclaims peace, and beseeches them to be

reconciled. Let it also show us our duty in dealing with our

brethren. Whoever are for war, we must be for peace. Of the

cities given to Israel, none of their inhabitants must be left.

Since it could not be expected that they should be cured of

their idolatry, they would hurt Israel. These regulations are

not the rules of our conduct, but Christ's law of love. The

horrors of war must fill the feeling heart with anguish upon

every recollection; and are proofs of the wickedness of man, the

power of Satan, and the just vengeance of God, who thus scourges

a guilty world. But how dreadful their case who are engaged in

unequal conflict with their Maker, who will not submit to render

him the easy tribute of worship and praise! Certain ruin awaits

them. Let neither the number nor the power of the enemies of our

souls dismay us; nor let even our own weakness cause us to

tremble or to faint. The Lord will save us; but in this war let

none engage whose hearts are fond of the world, or afraid of the

cross and the conflict. Care is here taken that in besieging

cities the fruit-trees should not be destroyed. God is a better

friend to man than he is to himself; and God's law consults our

interests and comforts; while our own appetites and passions,

which we indulge, are enemies to our welfare. Many of the Divine

precepts restrain us from destroying that which is for our life

and food. The Jews understand this as forbidding all wilful

waste upon any account whatsoever. Every creature of God is

good; as nothing is to be refused, so nothing is to be abused.

We may live to want what we carelessly waste.
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